Sheikh Mohammed launches national tourism strategy to attract 40m hotel guests by 2031

Plan includes attracting Dh100bn in additional tourism investments

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, on Friday announced a national tourism strategy that is intended to attract 40 million hotel guests by 2031.

The strategy, launched in the presence of Cabinet ministers and senior government officials, is also designed to attract Dh100 billion in tourism investment to the UAE.

“Today, we adopted our national tourism strategy until 2031,” Sheikh Mohammed said on Twitter.

“Today, we are among the top 10 tourist destinations in the world and our goal is to accelerate our competitiveness by attracting Dh100bn in additional tourism investments to this vital sector and receiving 40 million hotel guests in 2031.”

Sheikh Mohammed said tourism is an important part of the UAE's economy. The new strategy should push the tourism sector's contribution to GDP to Dh450bn by 2031, increasing each year by Dh27bn, he said.

“Tourism is an important part of diversifying our national economy and an important tributary to consolidating our global competitiveness,” he said in a second tweet.

“Our airports received 22 million passengers in the first quarter of this year alone. Our goal is that the tourism sector’s contribution will be Dh450bn of our GDP in 2031.”

The strategy includes 25 initiatives and policies to support the development of the tourism sector in the country, the government media office said.

It is based on strengthening the national tourism identity, developing and diversifying specialised products, building capabilities, encouraging Emiratis to become involved in the sector, and increasing investments.

The strategy will also encourage investment in travel, aviation and hospitality, create new investment opportunities, and attract more international companies to the local market.

The UAE has experienced a return to high tourism numbers this year, with a strong tourism industry performance predicted at a Cabinet meeting in September.

Figures revealed at that meeting showed the tourism sector’s revenue exceeded Dh19bn during the first half of this year and the total hotel guest numbers in the same period reached 12 million — an increase of 42 per cent.

“Our indicators today are stronger than our indicators before the pandemic, and our economic growth is faster than before the pandemic, and our tourism, commercial and development sectors are larger than before the pandemic,” Sheikh Mohammed said at that meeting.

Majid Al Futtaim, the Middle East's largest mall operator, in its “State of The UAE Retail Economy” report, last week said the travel and tourism sector has bounced back strongly, with “consumers now spending more than before the pandemic-induced turbulence”.

Dubai reported a 182 per cent year-on-year rise in international visitors between January to August.

The number of occupied room nights in the emirate rose by 28 per cent annually in the January-August period, 17 per cent above pre-coronavirus levels in 2019 at slightly less than 24 million, the report said.

Occupancy rates at Abu Dhabi hotels also improved month-on-month in August to 65.2 per cent, according to data from hotel analytics provider STR.

Passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi International Airport also nearly quadrupled during the second quarter of this year.

Hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi expect occupancy levels ranging between 80 per cent to 100 per cent thanks to the Fifa World Cup, with strong demand trends similar to those recorded during the peak period of Expo 2020 Dubai, according to the major local and international hotel chains operating in the UAE.

In 2019, the Ministry of Economy said travel and tourism contributed Dh180.4bn in revenue to the UAE's GDP, which is equivalent to 11.6 per cent of the total GDP.

Total spending of international tourists that year amounted to Dh143.1bn.

It said the number of hotels in the UAE in 2020 increased to 1,089, while the hotel capacity in the country reached 180,000 hotel rooms.

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Updated: November 11, 2022, 4:53 PM